« AnteriorContinuar »
his crutches, looking at the gardener, who was
No peace would the young people allow their papa, till they had made him promise to help them in "LEARNING TO ACT." Franklin was not unprepared for this appeal; for he had, in fact, after reading them himself, put the little books into their hands, with the view of bringing about the very thing which had occurred; he had even gone so far, as to arrange in his mind, a plan of communicating to them what he thought would be most useful.
That no time might be lost by the young people in pursuing the new object of learning to act, which had so suddenly sprung up before them, it was proposed on their part, that their father should meet them every evening to say something to them on the subject. Mr. Franklin replied, he could not promise to devote every evening to this object, but he would meet them on that evening to begin, and as often afterwards as his other engagements would allow.
Promise a child a new plaything, and he will think of very little else till he has obtained it; and put a new and interesting object before young people, and they will never be easy till they are engaged in it. Edward and Thomas had their kites to fly and their hoops to trundle, for it was holyday time, and Mary had many things to occupy her attention; yet still, in the midst of all these enjoyments, "Learning to Act" was uppermost in their minds. The hours rolled on, and evening came, when, by way of treat, tea was served up on the lawn in the garden at the back of the house. Mrs. Franklin was absent, on a visit to her aged and infirm mother, at Bath; but the rest of the family were assembled.
The tea-things were removed. There sat Mr. Franklin, with his daughter beside him, on the garden seat, his crutches leaning against the laburnum tree at his back; and there sat Edward and Thomas on stools; while little Peter, with his battledore in his
hand, squatted on the dry grass, at the feet of his papa. Altogether they formed a sweet domestic picture. Every face was turned in the direction of Mr. Franklin, when he thus began his observations.
"Now, children, to business. You have seen by the first piece which you have read, how easy a matter it is for those to learn to think who have not been accustomed to reflection; and you have, by the second piece, seen, also, that by a proper course of proceeding, good feelings may be called forth and strengthened. If, then, young people may learn to think and feel, surely they may, with equal ease, learn to act also.
"This appears so very plain to me, that I make little doubt, if you give me your attention, I shall make it appear very plain to you. There is not one among you, perhaps, who now knows how to make so simple a thing as a brimstone match; but if I were to explain to you, how to split up the wood, to melt the sulphur, and to dip the ends of the matches into it, you would be able to make a match without any difficulty. Now, to learn how to act a useful part, in many cases, will not be more difficult than to learn how to make a brimstone match ?"
Edward. We will pay all the attention we can to you.
Peter. I should like to know how to make a match
Mr. Franklin. In learning to act, it should be your aim to be able to do good actions in the best possible way. In one sense, all acts proper to be done are acts of duty; because it is our duty to do all we can, that is right, kind, or necessary; but I shall, perhaps, make the thing clearer, by classing proper actions under a few different heads, such as acts of duty, affection, friendship, kindness, humanity, prudence, usefulness, and gratitude.
Mary. Yes; we shall understand you better then.
Mr. F. The qualities most necessary to enable us to act usefully, kindly, and affectionately are these: kind intentions, self-possession, knowledge, prudence, promptitude, patience, and perseverance. I will show you cases wherein these qualities are required. To make a call upon a sick friend, which is you know a kind act, nothing is wanting but a good intention. Neither self-possession, knowledge, prudence, patience, nor perseverance are in this case required. Do you understand this?
"Yes, yes, yes!" cried out the young people.
Mr. F. But if, when you called on your sick friend, you were asked to assist a nurse, who was dressing a wound or putting on leeches, self-possession would be necessary. If you had not firmness enough to look on a wound, or to handle a leech, your assistance
would be useless, notwithstanding all your good intentions.
M. Nothing can be clearer than that.
Mr. F. But, now, suppose that instead of your being asked to help another, you were required to dress the wound, or to apply the leeches yourselves. You now see that another quality is required. Good intentions and self-possession would not enable you to act, you want knowledge. If you did not know how to dress a wound and to apply leeches, your good intentions and your selfpossession would be of no avail.
E. Very true. We have learned something already.
Mr. F. Then again, though you had knowledge, if you did not possess prudence, you might do your sick friend more harm than good, by talking discouragingly of the wound, by showing unguardedly the blood, or being uncleanly with regard to the plaster; for patients are often much affected by trifles of this kind.
M. We are getting wiser I think every minute.
Thomas. And I think so, too.
Mr. F. Promptitude, in some cases, is indispensable: a spark put out at once may prevent a fire; and assistance promptly rendered, may save a life. Patience, also, is very necessary; for sick people are often unreasonable, peevish, and trying, and they must kindly